Part 1: 7 Lessons From the Death Portal

I've been in the death portal for the past month with the passing of a dear soul dog, Swami Blue. She was 17.5 years old. I knew when I met her 6 years ago that we had a soul contract and that one day I would be called upon to help her die.

Indeed, it was 7 years ago today, my own soul dog, Pennylane, taught me everything I needed to know to fulfill this sacred soul contract with Blue. Today it is my wish to honor both of them and to share with you 7 lessons I learned from being in the death portal. I hope you find it comforting and meaningful.

The ancient Samurai of Japan had a motto to “let death be your counsel.” The modern version of that phrase might be something like,

Would I care about this if I were on my death bed?  or When I die, what do I want to have said about my life?

The power of death is real. It gives meaning to life.

In your imagination, work backward from that moment of death to where you are now. Imagine that what you do now provides the foundation for what is to come.

What would you do differently with the end in mind? 

When Pennylane died it was my first real wake up call around death. She died in my arms at 4:24 am. The vet had advised me minutes before to “massage her and tell her that I love her.” That was the first of many auspicious instructions that led me to experience her passing in a non-ordinary way — full of magic and serendipity. If you watched my film, Doglama, you know the story. Lesson 1: Show up and be open. Life will teach you what you need to know. And it will blow your mind. Fast forward to June 9 of this year at 7:37 pm, I helped Swami Blue make this same transition. I cried with an equal amount of grief, and her mama and I sent her on her soul’s journey with enthusiastic tear-stained cheeks exclaiming: “GO, you got this!” Lesson 2: Pay it forward. What you learn, you will eventually teach. And, it may not feel like teaching, but learning again, only you've been there before.

Snatam Kaur’s version of Akal played in the background (check out our playlist here) and 13 friends were chanting the same in their homes at the moment of her exit. Akal means “undying” and is chanted just after the soul leaves the body to remind the soul to keep going on its journey and that the soul never dies.

Surrounded by her family, Blue went out with grace and love on the mantra of “Wahe Guru,” which is the vibration of the ecstatic expression of Divine Energy that takes us from darkness into light – the same mantra I had chanted as my third eye touched Pennylane’s third eye 7 years before. 

Lesson 3: Train your mind to chant mantras now. Chant in the car, chant in your sleep. Instead of thinking, chant. Chant so that when you die, you are naturally and easily reciting mantras. These mantras don’t have to be in another languages, they can simply be affirmations of life, of love, of God, of joy. If you want to go out with joy and intention, train your mind for this now.

After Blue left her body, we had a wave of sensation of the liberation she was experiencing. Indeed, 3 days before she passed, Amaura, her mom, was given a dream. In that dream Blue jumped out of her arms and off a cliff into the next realm exclaiming she was ready and happy to go. In fact, she was determined to go. It was the sign we needed that Blue's soul was ready for its next adventure.

The night of Blue's passing, I checked the solar flare report and couldn't believe what I read: "The skies are clear. The auroras are dancing at the poles."

Lesson 4: If you need a sign, ask for it. Be ready to act when you get it.

After Blue died, we put her body on dry ice for 3 days. Although no one said it out loud, most people probably thought I was nuts for suggesting we put Blue’s body on dry ice. Buddhist friends gave me this idea after Pennylane died, and it turned out to be incredibly important for me. Amaura said the same thing later about having Blue for 3 days after her death. We made space to grieve and to connect. People came by. We sat with her. We surrounded her in visions of rainbow light. We encouraged her along the journey. 

Lesson 5: Don’t rush things. Your psyche is overwhelmed and in shock. It needs time to process. This is as much for you as it is for the soul who is transitioning.

Death taught me to know what is important and to become the possibility for it happening. That means no autopilot and no comfort zone. I had to take the lead, such as with the dry ice, and trust that people would come along.

Indeed that happened: The night of her passing, we played music, we sang songs, and people showed up. They brought flowers, dry ice, and tequila (it's ceremonial!). They shared important stories that lessened the pain and made decisions easier. We wrote love notes to Blue. The kids were with us for all of it. They drew pictures. We laughed. We cried. We felt the privilege of being alive in sacred community. Blue did in death what she did in life: she brought us together.

Lesson 6: Death lessons are LIFE lessons.

Lastly I leave you with this question: What happens when you die?

This question we will be the subject of my next blog. I will draw upon my studies of Kundalini yoga and the Blue Ethers and the 10 Bodies and from teachings from the Tibetan Book of the Dead (also known as the Tibetan Book of Liberation in the Bardo or the Bardo Todol). These teachings have much to say about how to live as how to die.

Stay tuned.

Lesson 7: The fear of death is the big fear under all other fears. We fear what we don't know. What would it be like if we could dissolve that fear and liberate ourselves now? 

Thank you for sharing in my epic death portal journey that began 7 years ago this very day.

With much love and joy,


P.S. If this story touched you, please let me know by replying to this email or writing me at

I dedicate this series on Death, Life, and the Bardo to Pennylane and Swami Blue. Their love touched me deeply and made me who I am today. (Pictured below.)

#doglove #lovingandlettinggo #fiercegrace #lovethatknowsnobounds #kundalini #bardo #tibetanbookofthedead #buddhist #death #yoga

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